Columbus is certifiably a burger town. Titan food chains like Wendy’s and White Castle put down their original stores in this Midwestern metropolis, but burgers are also appearing on upscale menus around the city. Gourmet chefs are reinventing the burger with some unusual toppings and grass-fed beef, bison, or even yak. Whether you’re looking for a classic burger stacked high with all the fixings or an alternative choice, Columbus has a burger for all – read on to find out where to eat them.
You cannot leave Columbus without having tried the notorious Thurmanator burger from Thurman’s Cafe. This delightful dive offers beer, wine, and spirits at their full bar and, of course, excellent burgers. The Thurmanator is downright gigantic – it consists of a bun, mayo, lettuce, tomato, banana peppers, bacon, ham, sauteed onions, mozzarella and American cheese, and two12-ounce beef patties. All the burgers come with fries and a classic deli pickle. Thurman’s also has a full menu of American comfort food that is just as excellent as the burgers.
The Huevos Rancheros | Courtesy of Starliner Diner
Skillet is a favorite brunch spot among Columbus natives, but the burgers are the real draw at this upscale American grill. All the ingredients are locally-sourced, including the cheese from Laurel Valley Creamery and the beef from Bluescreek Farm. The Pimento Burger is oozing with flavor, made with pimento and jack cheese, jalapenos, and an organic beef patty, finished with the tangy housemade tomato marmalade. The menu is constantly changing, but this burger is almost always on the docket.
De Novo defines the ‘gourmet burger,’ which is served in a chic, modern setting with low-hanging chandeliers, exposed brick, and a sleek wine bar. The Pretzel Bun Sirloin Burger is made with lettuce, oven-roasted tomato aioli, house pickles, boursin cheese, onions, and caramelized mushrooms. The herby cheese contrasts with the sweet bun, creating a cocktail of wonderful flavors.
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The Hey Hey Bar and Grill is a Celtic-inspired pub with a whole lot of history. Built in 1900, the Hey Hey originally operated as a speakeasy – the smugglers would announce ‘Hey hey, the beer is here!’ and the name has stuck ever since. In addition to live music and craft beer, this pub serves an excellent yak burger (yes, yak). The ‘Yak Attack!’ is made with two yak patties on a toasted brioche bun with American cheese, ‘special sauce’, tomato, and diced onion. Although yak may be an unusual alternative to beef, Hey Hey is likely to convert you.
On the outskirts of Columbus is a quaint Victorian inn that was built in 1831 and also happens to serve one of the best burgers in the city. The ‘Lights Out’ burger is, forgive the pun, a knockout – made with grass-fed beef, applewood smoked bacon, sharp cheddar, tobacco onions, arugula, tomato, and a barbecue secret sauce on a toasted kaiser bun. All burgers are served with hand-cut fries or Carolina-style coleslaw, and can be enjoyed inside or on the outdoor patio. The food alone makes the trip out of town well-worth it.